TT 77: year in review

Today at 1 PM, EST, I do a webinar at Jazz Heaven.com, a website run by Falk Willis, an old friend who played on my very first record, School Work with Dewey Redman.

“Fun Games with the Metronome”

Strengthen your time with Ethan – from easy to crazy-hard

  • ​​A basic attitude towards the metronome.
    (Hint: It doesn’t help you swing.)

  • Two important speeds: Fast metronome & slow metronome

  • How to get repeating patterns to lay right

  • Improvising in different styles against the click
    Masterclass + Q&A + 1-on-1 HOT SEATS where YOU can be live on screen via webcam & get 1-on-1 Feedback from Ethan.

If you don’t watch live, the webinar can be purchased from JazzHeaven.com later on.

The stuff I teach really works, I do it myself and it has helped me a lot.


There’s not much reason to be on social media until after the election, so I’m going to take the rest of October off from DTM, Twitter, and FaceBook. We all pray for a smooth transfer of power to Biden and Harris.


My next record will be a release of the Umbria Jazz concert Bud Powell in the 21st Century with Ingrid Jensen, Dayna Stephens, Ben Street, Lewis Nash, and the Umbria big band.

Enzo Capua of Umbria asked several musicians to comment for the Italian magazine Musica Jazz, “about the situation in USA during these dramatic times.” I wrote back to Enzo:

2020 has certainly seen a reckoning. I feel lucky to be involved with jazz music, for there is always optimism around jazz. Most of the people involved playing, promoting, or listening to jazz do it simply out of love, for, as we all know, there is not much money or personal power to be found. In my profession as a pianist I have seen up close the high perch of classical music and the money machine of rock music; I am always happy to return to the comparatively soulful environs of jazz.  

COVID-19 is devastating blow for the scene, for the very livelihood for the musicians. My wife and I are about to move from an expensive apartment to a more reasonable one, and we both know that if the restrictions keep up, we will have to move in with my wife’s mother.

But at the same time, all the musicians are practicing and growing! Everyone is thinking about what kind of music is truly important to make. We are going to hear some incredible sounds when we start gigging again, and the audience will be so eager to discover our growth.

It was the summer of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. While jazz does not have a perfect score, at least anyone in jazz looks up to heroes who are black. In this way we are further along than many citizens, although more could be done, perhaps especially in the field of institutional jazz education, which can be as banal and white as a Wall Street business office. I predict much good to come of the protests and the brave young people who are tired of the status quo.

And then there’s Donald Trump. It is very hard to contemplate this kind of evil sin. Trump seems to embody every terrible thing about American culture. I have nothing to say to Italians and other Europeans except, “I’m sorry. We are sorry.” It is truly a grave situation. Right now it does not feel like he will be re-elected. But if he does get re-elected — I say to my Italian friends, “You will see much more of me starting next year, for I am giving up on America and moving to Italy!” I am quite serious about this.


The year so far on DTM:

Art Hodes, Selections From the Gutter

Steve Reich’s Tehillim

The Sandbaggers and Michael Gilbert, Establishment Espionage

Charlie Parker Centennial with Steve Coleman, Charles McPherson, Mark Turner, Tom Harrell, John Scofield, and Bertha Hope

Boogie Backbone

Leon Fleisher plays Grieg and Schumann Piano Concertos

Rex Stout, Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, Comfort Food

The Shadow of Johnny Mandel

Interview with John Cumming

Riffs about Jarrett, Bill Evans, 70’s jazz, Mary Lou Williams, Dicky Wells, Leroy Jenkins, Gershwin a.o. for my students

Mel Powell Unfurnished

The Best of Robert B. Parker

R.I.P. Lee, Ice Cream Konitz

Black Music Teachers in the Era of Segregation

RIP Jon Christensen

Interview with Guy Klucevsek (by Anthony Creamer)

Interview with Bertha Hope

RIP Peter Serkin, In Real Time

RIP Jimmy Heath

Thomas Perry, The Professional

Genre-Specific, Kenny G


The most widely-read essay of the year was my NPR obit for Stanley Crouch. Many people have sent me fabulous clippings and other Crouch items in response. When I return I’ll have another post on Stanley showcasing these rare items….


The Chronology essays for JazzTimes:

  1. James Newton

  2. John Scofield, Steve Swallow, Adam Nussbaum

  3. Mary Lou Williams

  4. Don Cherry

  5. Charli Persip (RIP)

  6. Shirley Horn

  7. Harold Mabern, Larry Willis, and Richard Wyands

  8. Bertha Hope

  9. Gary Peacock (RIP)

  10. Jimmy Lyons

  11. Wynton Kelly at Left Bank

  12. Paul Desmond

  13. Old and New Dreams

  14. Larry Young and Woody Shaw

The next two are already written, Jacob Garchik + Andrew D’Angelo big bands then Meredith D’Ambrosio. For January I will look at Eubie Blake.

TT 76: Larry Young + Woody Shaw, a few hits this week

My latest column for JazzTimes is about Larry Young and Woody Shaw in Newark in the early 60s, a collaboration that produced Unity, one of the greatest LPs of all time.

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On Thursday, I’ll be talking with Dekel Bor for JazzTimes, streamable on the JazzTimes FaceBook page. ECM will be giving away a vinyl copy of Temporary Kings, my duo album with Mark Turner.

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On Sunday, I’ll be giving a masterclass for Jazz Heaven, the educational site hosted by my old friend Falk Willis, who drummed on my first album School Work with Dewey Redman way back in 1993. It’s a paid webinar; the topic is “Fun Games With the Metronome.”

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More bits and bytes at the latest DTM, “Autumn Leaves.” Don’t miss the Burt Bacharach concert for Democrats in Wisconsin!

TT 75: Platters in review, and two blues

During the pandemic I’ve had time to listen to my stash and diary certain areas of my library.

Valuable Jazz Anthologies includes

I Remember Bebop Al Haig, Duke Jordan, John Lewis, Sadik Hakim, Walter Bishop, Barry Harris, Tommy Flanagan, Jimmy Rowles
Cafe Society J.C. Heard, Mary Lou Williams, Edmond Hall, Maxine Sullivan
Chicago’s Boss Tenors Gene Ammons, Tom Archia, Claude McLin, and Johnny Griffin
Jazz Women: A Feminist Retrospective
The New Breed Cecil Taylor, Charles Tolliver, Grachan Moncur, Archie Shepp

Jazz Greats: Art Tatum: The Shout (curated by Brian Priestley)
Jazz Greats: Boogie Woogie: Roll ‘Em (curated by Brian Priestley and Tony Russell)

Surely This is Going to Work Correctly Eventually includes:

Friedrich Gulda, Music for 4 soloists and Band No. 1
Dedicated to Eric Dolphy
The American Jazz Ensemble New Dimensions
Noel DaCosta Ukom Memory Songs
Noel DaCosta Four Preludes, Jes’ Grew, and Five Verses with Vamps
The Modern Jazz Ensemble Little David’s Fugue
The Modern Jazz Quartet In Memoriam
Roland Hanna Child of Gemini
Freddie Hubbard and İlhan Mimaroğlu, Sing Me a Song of Songmy
Michael Mantler/Carla Bley ‎13 for Piano and Two Orchestras — 3/4 for Piano and Orchestra

sincere thanks to Mr. Mark Stryker, who has looked over these pages (and several other DTM essays) before I post. However, all errors and incorrect opinions, are, of course, mine alone!

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Sarah and I have a new studio. I am keeping the piano on “mute” while we work on the soundproofing. For fun I improvised a pair of blues for my socials:

TT 74: Old and New Dreams, Vinnie Sperrazza

New Chronology for JazzTimes: on Old and New Dreams.

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Highly recommended: Vinnie Sperrazza’s online course, History of North American Drumming, 1895-2020.

STARTS TONIGHT.

Vinnie’s my man, I’ve learned a lot from him, and will be checking some of this out myself. Sign up here.

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